Sunday, August 9, 2015

Synaxis of All Saints of the Island of Kefallonia

On the first Sunday of August the Local Church of the island of Kefallonia honors in a common celebration all the Saints that are recognized by the Christians of saint-bearing and saint-trodden Kefallonia, and have been benefactors and mediators before the Throne of Grace in their difficult moments.

The icon dedicated to this feast, which is the work of Panachrantos Monastery in Megara, sits on a special throne in the Cathedral of Evangelistrias-Ascension in Argostoli since June 29, 2014.

In the middle of the icon sits the Mother of God enthroned as the Queen of Heaven with the Christ Child, who is the Creator of All Things, on her lap. Surrounding them are various notable saints associated with Kefallonia, among the many others who are known to God.

Directly below the Theotokos is the patron and protector of the island of Kefallonia, Saint Gerasimos the New Ascetic (Aug. 16 and Oct. 20), who holds the island in his right hand, offering it in supplication to the Theotokos and Christ. In his left hand he holds a scroll that says: "O Mother of the Lord, cover and protect this island."

To the right of the Theotokos are six saints. In the first row is the Holy Apostle Paul (June 29) who helped bring the Gospel to the island, and Saint Anthimos Kourouklis the New Ascetic (Sept. 4) who was a blind missionary to the Aegean islands and lived as an ascetic in Kefallonia. Above them alone stands Saint Panagis Basias (June 7), the notable and wonderworking priest of Lixouri. On the top row are Saint Kosmas the Aitolos (Aug. 24), who passed through Kefallonia in 1777; Saint Donatos the Bishop of Evria (Apr. 30), whose relic was brought to Kefallonia in the twelfth century by Crusaders on their way to Venice and remained for many months in the Church of Saint George in Kastro; and Saint Haralambos (Feb. 10), who saved the city of Lixouri from plague in 1762 and famine in 1811 and is the patron of the city.

To the left of the Theotokos are five saints. In the first row stands the Holy Apostle Andrew (Nov. 30), whose right foot is kept as a spiritual treasure in the Monastery of Saint Andrew in Milapidia. In the year 1639, the Greek-Romanian princess Rozani survived a shipwreck. She was the daughter of the Moldovlachian Zotou Tsigara and granddaughter of the ruler of Moldavia and Wallachia voivode Peter. She became a nun in this Monastery and took the name Romyla, bringing with her as a gift the right foot of Saint Andrew that bears the mark from his crucifixion. Next to him is Saint Makarios the Notaras, Archbishop of Corinth (Apr. 17), who visited Kefallonia in 1771 to venerate the relic of his relative Saint Gerasimos. According to the tradition of Omalon Monastery, Saint Makarios asked to be alone in the church with the incorrupt relic of Saint Gerasimos after sunset, at which time his coffin opened and Saint Gerasimos came out, and after the two embraced and conversed, he entered back into his coffin. Above them are the Holy Fanentes - Saints Gregory, Theodore and Leon the Confessors (Sunday of All Saints and Sunday of the Holy Myrrhbearers). These three lived as ascetics and reposed in the fourth century in Sami (or Samo as it is known by many). After the miraculous discovery of their holy relics, a Monastery was built in their honor.

To the bottom left of the Theotokos is the Holy Monastery of Saint Gerasimos on land, which is the main place of pilgrimage on the island. To the bottom right of the Theotokos is the Apostle Paul coming to Kefallonia on a ship.

Above all of them is the Lord of Glory, accompanied by two Angels, crowning the Saints of Kefallonia.

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